Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:
Last year we sadly had to put down our beloved cat. He was very sick, and he had started peeing all over our clothes, carpet and furniture. It has been several months and we have gotten ridden of everything he peed on and replaced the carpet. We would love to get a new kitten, but I am worried that the new kitten may have issues related to our old cat’s peeing places. I’m also worried about the fact we have three boys and are adding a baby in April. Our kids loved our cat and their babysitter has a kitten too that they do great with. I just don’t want to overwhelm a new kitten and have any problems like peeing all over. Thank you for your help.
Thomas: First of all, let us say how sorry we are that you had to let a beloved cat go after so many years together. Thank you for being willing and ready to bring a new feline friend into your life, too.
Bella: Considering how much you’ve done to ensure that your former cat’s pee isn’t all over the place, we don’t think you’ll have to worry too much about a new kitten peeing in the other cat’s preferred locations.
Tara: However, we do think you may want to give some thought as to whether you’re ready to have a kitten in your home.
Thomas: You already have three kids, so you know the deal with babies and how much time and energy they take up.
Bella: Also, your sons might be really into their baby brother or sister, too, and they might be putting a lot of their energy into getting to know their new little sibling.
Tara: If you’ve already thought about all that and you’ve talked to your boys about taking care of a kitten, and everybody’s ready, then go ahead and adopt a new feline family member!
Thomas: We’d suggest that when you go to the shelter to get your new kitten, you look for one who’s very outgoing and curious. Extroverted kittens tend to be less nervous about a busy household.
Bella: Talk to the adoption counselors about what it’s like in your home. Is it busy? Maybe a little bit noisy? Are your sons really active and outgoing? Let them know honestly about your home life and you’ll have a better chance at getting a cat who’s a good fit for your family.
Tara: You might even be able to find a kitten who has been fostered in a home with children and a baby!
Thomas: Bring the boys to the shelter with you when you go to look at cats. You’ll be able to find out which ones are excited or open to getting involved with them. That will also ensure you get a cat or kitten who will work well with your family.
Bella: You might even consider getting an older kitten or an adult cat. Those kitties will have more experience in life, and some of them may also have lived with kids and babies. Adoption counselors get as much detail on kitties’ past lives as they can, because that helps them make a good match with families looking for cats.
Tara: The same thing is true if you’re thinking of bringing a purebred cat into your family. Bring your sons with you to the breeder’s home so the kittens can choose which one goes with you.
Thomas: And consider a breed that tends to be more outgoing and adaptable. Some breeds are a bit more shy and introverted than others and may do better in quiet, adult-only homes.
Bella: Of course, we think adopting from a shelter is the best option because you’ll get a kitten who already has been spayed or neutered, had all their shots, gotten a microchip, and been giving a clean bill of health.
Tara: Also, you’ll be saving a life! Even if the shelter you adopt from is a no-kill shelter, you’ll be making room for that shelter to bring in a cat from an open-admission shelter where they may not have as much time.
Thomas: We’re glad to hear your boys are good with cats, because you’re going to need their help with taking care of your new kitten. We imagine you’re going to have plenty to do once the new baby arrives!
Bella: Depending on how old your sons are, they may be able to help out with cat care like feeding, playing with the kitten, and maybe even cleaning the litter box. Here’s a great list of cat chores by age.
Tara: And even if you get an outgoing kitten, you’ll want to introduce the new kitten properly. Every cat needs his or her own time table to get used to a new home.
Thomas: Here’s a great guide on introducing a new cat to your family from cat behaviorist Pam Johnson-Bennett.
Bella: We think if you follow Pam’s instructions and make sure your sons get involved with chores, you’ll have great luck with a new kitten. We hope you and your family will have many happy years together with him or her.
Tara: What about you other readers? Do you have tips for bringing a new cat into a home with children and a new baby? Have you done it? What worked for you, and what didn’t work? Please share your thoughts in the comments.